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Articles > Big Pharma Want Your Weed Money

Big Pharma Want Your Weed Money
September 5, 2017

Political Analyst – Derek Thomas

We’ve known from the beginning that legalization was a double-edged sword. We knew we would have to keep a watchful eye over the sanctity and purity of our plants. In whatever form you like to consume, whether its smoking flower and oils or eating ingestibles or even using topical lotions, most will agree they want their THC and CBD unadulterated and right from the source: cannabis.

As more people begin to replace their standard treatments for cannabis, big pharma is beginning to feel the squeeze. Synthetic opioids are being replaced for pain management by athletes and chronic pain sufferers. Anti-seizure medication like acetazolamide and perampanel are being replaced with low-THC CBD’s. Anti-anxiety meds like SSRI’s (Zoloft, Prozac) and benzodiazepines (Xanax, valium) are being tossed in the trash for their less expensive and less-side-effects competitor: marijuana. PTSD sufferers, chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting patients, glaucoma patients, and Tourette’s syndrome sufferers being treated with marijuana.

All across the health spectrum, patients are finding they prefer the ancient flower over prescription pills that have terrible short and long-term side effects and incredibly addictive qualities.

New Frontier Data published a study in May of this year that must have pharmaceutical companies rattled. In states that have legalized recreational marijuana or medical marijuana, key prescription drug use is down 11%. Even scarier for big-pharma was their conclusion: if marijuana were to become federally legal, pharmaceutical companies would stand to lose a staggering 5 billion dollars per year.

Enter companies like Insys Therapeutics (NASDAQ: INSY). The company has a terrible moral track record when it comes to opioids, being accused in federal court of miss-marketing an opioid to increase sales. It’s no surprise they’re continuing their morally reprehensible track record in their fight against legal (and natural) marijuana.

Insys’s spent hundreds of thousands attempting defeat legal marijuana in their home state of Arizona, claiming it failed to protect Arizona’s children.

Smell the bullshit? Insys’s SEC filling should help you sort out their lies for yourself. Check out this excerpt:

"Legalization of marijuana or non-synthetic cannabinoids in the United States could significantly limit the commercial success of any dronabinol product candidate ... Literature has been published arguing the benefits of marijuana over dronabinol. Moreover, irrespective of its potential medical applications, there is some support in the United States for legalization of marijuana.

If marijuana or non-synthetic cannabinoids were legalized in the United States, the market for dronabinol product sales would likely be significantly reduced and our ability to generate revenue and our business prospects would be materially adversely affected."

In Insys's own words, marijuana legalization in Arizona would "significantly" reduce the market for their synthetic drug, Dronabinol. 

The plot thickens! As it became apparent that Insys wouldn’t be able to prevent marijuana from becoming legal in AZ, they quietly began working on a synthetic marijuana that could compete with traditional marijuana for their market share of dronabinol. And in March of this year, the Drug Enforcement Administration awarded Insys a schedule II placement of their new synethetic marijuana drug Syndros.

So Insys, a company already accused of lying about its opioid drugs, saw that its profits from that opioid drug were being threatened by marijuana. While campaigning against marijuana – in the name of children – to protect its opioid drug, it was simultaneously working on a synthetic (and patented) version with the DEA and FDA to ensure its market share.

As a staunch supporter of free markets and capitalism, I don’t really have a problem with Insys creating a synthetic marijuana drug and lobbying against traditional marijuana. Don’t get me wrong, the marketing of their opioid drugs is illegal and their other behavior is deplorable, but the burden of protection of free markets lies with government, and ultimately, us as voters and consumers. Marijuana should have lay on the same competitive playing field as other treatments, and it ultimately falls on our shoulders to ensure that – not drug companies.

While Insys makes for a great story, they’re hardly the only pharmaceutical company making these moves. Axim, Nemus, and Intec have all begun the process of manufacturing their own marijuana synthetics.

But as marijuana opens up to more and more research, the odds of this type of deceitful corporate behavior and government playing favorites is only going to increase.

In fact, a new study by American and Chinese researchers published in the medical journal Cell claims their findings may make it easier for synthetic compounds to be manufactured as there is now a greater understanding of our brains CB1 receptors.

The continued legalization of cannabis, increased funding, and acceptance will continue to be a double-edged sword. Drug companies will discover new ways to corner the market through lobbying, legislation, and patents. Patients and researchers will continue to find new ways to treat themselves with traditional marijuana. Recreational users will continue to be the vigilant and passionate watch dogs over all the developments.

The burden is on us to continue to ensure access to traditional flower, oil, or seeds if that’s how you get down. Keep up the fight my friends!

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